By Mick Jensen
Hakatere Marae Komiti chair Michelle Brett is delighted with the introduction of new support services for the district’s growing Maori community.
Mrs Brett said the subject of support services had been raised a number of times over the years and since an advisory and advocacy service had stopped in 1998.
In more recent times, the maori police liaison and Ministry of Social Development’s Community Response Forum had been convinced of the need for a service response.
It was pleasing now to see that come to fruition, she said.
Some 2748 people, or eight per cent of the local population, identified themselves as Maori or of Maori descent in the last census, said Mrs Brett, and some 10 per cent of Ashburton College’s roll was also Maori or of Maori descent.
Christchurch based health and social service provider He Waka Tapu has been contracted to provide the new services, which will include youth and whanau support.
He Waka Tapu operations manager Jackie Burrows, who has strong links to Ashburton district, said she was looking forward to building a service that operated from both Hakatere Marae and Mid Canterbury Community House and that met the needs of whanau and the wider community.
He Waka Tapu staff had already received referrals into the service and expected up to 650 new referrals via the website over the next 12 months.
The support service will cover a broad range of topics, including education, one-on-one whanau planning, advocacy and health
For some whanau, a reduction in youth offending and truancy could be achieved, while for others, an education or employment goal could be supported, said Mrs Burrows.
In the full time youth support role position is Juanita Richards, who has been a youth mentor in Methven for the last four and a half years. She can be contacted on 021 193 7935
Brenda Warren, who is an experienced whanau worker and has worked for He Waka Tapu for the last four years, will provide support two days a week across Mid Canterbury and can be contacted on 021 856 552.